Reliability and safety: the unsung heroes in electrification

Products that perform well add value over the long term.

When you think about safety and quality, the two go hand-in-hand. Imagine careening down a mountain at full speed when your ski binding suddenly breaks. You put on your skis and expect them to carry you down the mountain without worrying about an equipment failure at top speed that could cause you harm or injury.

Safety and quality are important across the spectrum of industries and a failure could mean direct harm or be costly in other ways. For example, when transporting 100 million passengers a year such as Bernmobil, Bern, Switzerland’s public transport operator, stoppages due to equipment failures are not acceptable. Or, what if a faulty connection causes an equipment failure and downtime of a critical production line occurs because a lesser-grade connector was used? Safety and reliability in electrification should never be taken for granted.

Maximizing Uptime and Bolstering Business Continuity

Any interruption in operations can have a significant impact. In an ARC Advisory Group study referenced by the International Society of Automation, over half of all respondents indicated downtime accounted for more than six percent of production lost, and over one third indicated downtime was over 10 percent.1  When unplanned downtime occurs, no value is being produced, but the cost of overhead operations continues to grow, which directly impacts a company’s bottom line. According to analyst firm Aberdeen Research, 82 percent of companies have experienced unplanned downtime over the past three years with an estimated cost of as much as $260,000 an hour.2

Preventing lost time may not be top-of-mind when selecting conduit. Yet, lost time and safety are exactly why we introduced our PMA™ multi-layer conduit line. In addition to downtime, which can cost some bakeries an average of $9,000 per hour per line3, the potential safety risks are even greater in the food and beverage industry. If a contaminant prompts a recall, that can affect customers and cause reputational damage. That’s why we have products to help protect this critical industry with solutions: providing easy visual detection in food & beverage processing, capable of withstanding environmental demands such as T&B™ Liquidtight Fittings and Stainless Steel conduits, delivering corrosion resistance and having antimicrobial properties.

Outages in other industries can have even broader implications. For the second successive year, about a third of the IT service and data center operators surveyed experienced an IT downtime incident or “severe degradation of service” in the past year as reported by Uptime Institute’s Annual Outage Analysis 2020. Looking further back, more than half of the survey respondents for the second successive year, reported they had a serious downtime in the past three years.4

According to ITIC’s 2020 Hourly Cost of Downtime Survey, more than 98% of companies with more than 1,000 employees say that on average, a single hour of IT downtime costs them more than $100,000. 5 If you consider the potential poor customer service experience, lost customers or reputational risks, the costs are even greater. Undoubtedly, having the right connections and protection in electrification is critical.

Standard-setting Solutions

What we do in Installation Products has everything to do with being safe, smart and sustainable. While the Installation Products breadth of products may not all be new to the market, the products we manufacture to protect and connect in electrification are found in some of the fastest cars, tallest buildings, highest speed trains, leading technology companies, industrial applications, and in communities and homes around the world. With some products launched more than a century ago and in service for decades, and others launched in recent months, our business continues to innovate to keep producing quality products for industrial, construction and utility applications.

Our experience with multiple materials, including steel, PVC, aluminum, nylon, copper and rubber, is combined with our advanced production capabilities such as injection molding, stamping, bonding and plating. From mass produced Carlon™ PVC electrical boxes to custom configured Homac™ products made-to-order for utilities to use in medium voltage applications, our focus is always on safety and reliability.

In 1898, when electric lighting was first being installed in New York City, two young engineers from Princeton University, Robert M. Thomas and Hobart D. Betts, went into business selling conduit. That business is the origin of Installation Products. Today, our products are far reaching, time-proven and consistently relied upon by businesses, industrial markets and homeowners in more than 20 countries. From electric vehicles and data centers, to the food and beverage industry, and even in space where Ty-Rap™ cable ties secured components on the Perseverance Mars rover — products need to perform reliably to keep the lights on and businesses operating.

Products that perform well add value over the long term. More importantly, it is having quality parts that provides a business with the confidence of knowing they can deliver their products, services or electrical power safely, reliably and consistently to their customers.


  1. Larry O’Brien, Vice President of Research at ARCAdvisory Group, ‘Key performance metrics and indicators survey highlights industry issues,’ com, Dedham, MA, and, Research Triangle Park, NC, International Society of Automation, 2019, and
  1. Graham Immerman, ‘The Real Cost of Downtime in Manufacturing,’ com, Northhampton, MA, MachineMetrics, 2018,
  1. Dan Malovany, ‘The Dreamspace Project,’ com, Kansas City, MO, Sosland Publishing, 2012,
  1. Authors: Andy Lawrence, Executive Director of Research, Uptime Institute and Rhonda Ascierto, Vice President of Research, Uptime Institute, ‘UI Intelligence report 35 – Annual Outage Analysis 2020,’ com, Seattle, WA, Uptime Institute, 2020, pg. 20, Uptime Institute Global Survey of IT and Data Center Managers 2019
  1. Laura DiDio, ‘Forty Percent of Enterprises Say Hourly Downtime Costs Top $, Grafton, MA, Information Technology Intelligence Consulting, 2020,
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About the author

Matthias Heilmann

Matthias Heilmann is President of the ABB Installation Products Division, formerly Thomas & Betts, which provides connection and protection products and solutions found wherever electricity is used. During his career, Matthias has held senior leadership roles in operations, technology and finance. Before re-joining ABB in 2019 to head Installation Products, Matthias served as Corporate Vice President of General Electric and President & CEO of Digital Solutions for Baker Hughes. He previously led the Enterprise Software business of ABB. Matthias earned an MBA from the University of Saarland in Germany and a PhD in Finance and Management Accounting from the University of St. Gall, Switzerland.
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